Respect for the sacred name

Last Friday, Bishop Serratelli, Chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship sent this letter from Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Ranjith concerning the use of the Divine Name, signified in the sacred tetragrammaton. The key directives are as follows:
1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2. For the translation of the Biblical text in modern languages, destined for liturgical usage of the Church, what is already prescribed by n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "SeƱor", etc.

3. In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form God" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.
There is a quite remarkable economy in the letter and directives which manage to achieve a number of things all at once:
  • There is an important note on New Testament Christology pointing out that the attribution of the title "Lord" to Christ is a proclamation of His divinity.
  • We are reminded again of the principles set out in Liturgiam Authenticam.
  • A quite needless offence to Jewish sensibilities is removed.
  • A number of execrable hymns are ruled out at a stroke.

Read this document on Scribd: On the 'Name of God'


On a lighter note, I remember from my days at the English College that we sometimes had to sing a ditty that went like this:
I will celebrate Your love forever, ****!
Age on age my words proclaim Your love.
For I know your love was meant to last forever,
Founded firm Your faithfulness.
A seminarian whom we always referred to as Marcus Druvius re-wrote this as follows:
I will celebrate your Mass forever, Pius!
Age on age shall Latin be my tongue.
For I know your Mass was meant to last forever,
Founded firm on Quo Primum.
In those days (early 1980s), I was not an enthusiast for the older form of the Mass but this was, as they say in Ireland, a fine rebel song.

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